I knew the time would come-after several years of carefully, mindfully eating, drinking, and exercising- little by little old habits started to creep back into my life until a month ago my body had had enough. My carefulness gave in to the stress of being the caretaker to my husband who was recovering from-ironically-two digestive surgeries. His diet before surgery #1 was seriously lacking in fiber, including fresh fruits and veggies, and his 6 week diet between surgery # 1 and #2 wasn’t much better. He was eating a limited diet of mashed potatoes, white bread, canned veggies, canned soup, pudding, and pasta and not much else that was healthy. I soon abandoned buying fresh vegetables because I was tired of going to the grocery store every day. I was throwing out vegetables left and right because I couldn’t eat them all by myself. Eventually, over the course of the summer, I gave in. I stopped making salads for 1. I stopped cooking 2 meals. I stopped caring for myself because it was two much to care for him and myself.
At some point during this 12 week ordeal my occasional glass of wine became my nightly glass of wine with dinner. I started eating dessert more frequently. I don’t even like packaged cookies, but soon I was having a midnight milk and cookies snack every other night. I started eating things I hadn’t eaten in years, like breakfast cereal and Chinese food. And then I stopped running regularly. Not because I didn’t feel like running, I just didn’t make it a priority. I even stopped going to the gym for a month and convinced myself I could work out at home. I stopped sleeping well and just felt like crap, all the time. When I did go back to the gym a month ago I decided working out twice a week at the gym was enough, because I was constantly sore and tired. I wanted to run more and do more on the weekends.
And then it happened. The week before Thanksgiving we went out to eat four times. Not once, not twice, but four times. Up until that week we hadn’t eaten out more than once a month in a very long time-years. And I stopped eating yogurt. Not because I wanted to, I just didn’t make it a priority. I had given up my daily kale protein smoothies about a year ago, but at least I had my yogurt. And then I stopped making hydration a priority, and on top of all that I continued to have my glass of wine with my starchy, carb-y, dinner.
At some point I remember laying in bed at night listening to my stomach make awful sounds and I thought to myself, “Wow, I cannot remember the last time my stomach sounded like that.”
It is amazing what you get used to and what you live with before you decide to take action. I let this go on for a couple weeks and finally started reading up on my gut and the battle enraging inside of me. My healthy gut was feeling not so healthy and my body was letting me know in many more ways than loud gurgling and rumbling. The first thing I did was to get rehydrated and added yogurt back into my diet, every day. I also consciously added healthy dietary fiber back into my diet every day by adding fresh fruit, veggies, nuts and berries. And I cut back on the sugar, specifically, high fructose sugar. It took several days (more like 2 weeks) but I am finally starting to feel more like my old self.
I also realized although I have spent the last year getting stronger and moving better, my conditioning has definitely declined. When I think back to the time I spent in the gym a couple years ago, I definitely spent more time on straight up metabolic conditioning. I am happy I am all around stronger, but I want to regain my aerobic fitness.
I am glad I didn’t let the wagon get too far ahead of me before realizing I had fallen off. Bad habits are so much easier to pick up again once you open the door, but it is never too late to start over. I feel as if I am starting over, maybe not from the very beginning, but I am going pretty far back. I hate to say I knew it would happen eventually, and I am not blaming anyone or punishing myself. To look at me you would not know the difference. I have not gained weight, I am still physically fit and strong. But I know the difference, and I don’t like the way I feel on the inside.
Just like going to the gym, running, and working out, re-adopting a healthy diet takes patience, commitment and consistency. It is going to take a few weeks for my body to purge itself of the crap I was feeding it, but I have learned the price of not making my body a priority. For five years I have made my health, well being and fitness a priority and this summer and fall I stopped doing that. I am not going to let 5 months ruin 5 years of hard work.